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Wearable Tech User Profile: Dr. Les Garson

Written BY

Emily Friedman

June 2, 2015

We're interviewing some of the top users of wearable technology in the enterprise world, from world-renowned physicians to leaders in a variety of industry sectors who are pioneering the use of wearables in the workplace. Hear about these individuals’ experience with wearables in their own words, beginning with Dr. Leslie Garson of UC Irvine Health Center. Dr. Garson will also share his knowledge and expertise at the Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit.

BrainXchange (Q): To begin, how about you provide us with a little background on yourself and your career? What do you do for a living and how did you first learn about wearable technology?

Les Garson, M.D. (A): I’m an anesthesiologist, in my 29th year of practice. I was in private practice up to approximately 3 and ½ years ago, when I joined UC Irvine Department of Anesthesiology. I first learned of wearable technology, specifically Google glass (GG), from media ads. It immediately piqued my interest as I could imagine many uses within medicine, and, especially, the field of anesthesiology.

BrainXchange: When did it become apparent to you that wearable technology could benefit your work?

Les Garson, M.D.: Once I saw some online demos and YouTube pieces of how GG works it seemed a natural progression into the field of Medicine.

BrainXchange: How did you use wearable technology in the workplace?

Les Garson, M.D.: We used GG as an ‘extender,’ or a very facile, real-time communication device. It allows an anesthesiologist who is monitoring a number of O.R.s to simultaneously ‘look in’ at the monitor of a patient in a particular room even though they may be in another room, or at another location not immediately close to the room they are viewing. It also allows anesthesia providers in the room to notify the attending anesthesiologist of any questions or concerns, and have real-time dialogue while the attending anesthesiologist can actually ‘see’ what the in-room provider is describing.

BrainXchange: Describe your experience to us, and what it was like to actually wear a pair of Google Glass.

Les Garson, M.D.: Very positive experience, wearing GG, it is very light and unobtrusive. You actually forget you’re wearing the device after a few minutes.

BrainXchange: How did you partner with Pristine to get Google Glass into the operating suite?

Les Garson, M.D.: Through a blog I saw a piece Kyle Samani [CEO, Pristine] had written about GG in healthcare and what Pristine was doing. I immediately reached out to him. He visited our institution and with the agreement of our Chairman, we embarked on a 10-week pilot using GG in the O.R.

BrainXchange: Did you encounter any major challenges in implementing the technology?

Les Garson, M.D.: There are challenges. It is such a new technology that there is a ‘novelty’ factor. Also, storing, accounting for the devices, and making sure they are charged is a significant aspect of workflow and accountability.

BrainXchange: How did your colleagues and students like the new technology?

Les Garson, M.D.: By and large the anesthesia residents thought GG was terrific and liked it a lot.  Some of the older anesthesia attendings were a bit more skeptical.

BrainXchange: Rate your experience with Google Glass from 1-10. What was difficult? What surprised you? What worked especially well, and what needs to be improved?

Les Garson, M.D.: I would rate it a 7. The device does get pretty warm after 10-15 minutes on your head and can thus be uncomfortable! The visual detail was surprisingly good, though audio was a weak point. It must be mentioned that none of the functionality of the GG with the Pristine apps was actually from Google. Pristine had stripped the GG of all its ‘out of the box’ components and upgraded the device with a very robust HD video component, and had also improved the audio portion, as well, far beyond what the basic GG functionality was.

BrainXchange: What are some applications for Glass you would like to see in the future, in your own job as well as in the general medical community?

Les Garson, M.D.: I would like the ability to see patient-specific information, vital signs, lab data, etc. directly in the visual field of GG, ported from a hospital EMR database. This would allow seamless interaction with the patient while at the same time providing up-to-date, easily-visualized information about the patient.

BrainXchange: Describe your ideal Google Glass of the next generation.

Les Garson, M.D.: A device that is unobtrusive, robust, easily storable and with long battery life, that allows direct porting of patient data to the visual field of the GG, and also allows easy communication with other healthcare providers.

BrainXchange: Describe for us – or rather imagine – the future of wearable technology in the healthcare and medical field. What’s going to happen on this front in the next year? How about in the next 5 years?

Les Garson, M.D.: Wearable technology will become ubiquitous in healthcare within 5-10 years. Healthcare workers require hands-free devices that also provide real-time information and patient-centric data, checklists, archiving capabilities for auditing and billing purposes. Wearable technology can satisfy these demands.

Les Garson, M.D., M.I.H.M. is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care at UC Irvine Health Center. Dr. Garson will present a thorough and engaging case study about UC Irvine’s use of smartglasses on Day 2 of EWTS ’15.

Further Reading